A letter from Mamie Broadhurst in Colombia
March 30, 2012
One Brick at a Time
Mamie and I have both taken part in capital campaigns, building projects, rent raisers, and pledge drives, but what if it all boiled down to selling tamales after church?
Currulao wasn't really a town 15 years ago. It was more a handful of roadside stands on the way in between larger commercial centers in the rural region of Urabá, but when the violence in the region escalated—between guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the government's military—thousands of people in the region had to flee from their homes. They instantly became “the displaced”—a statistical category in which Colombia is a world leader. They fled, often with only what they could carry, to towns and cities that might not be home but would be the only place they could find to escape the violence.
So Currulao began to grow and grow with people streaming in from all over the region. It now has more than 50,000 people. It is a town of desplazados—the displaced—mixing people of different regions and customs, of different histories and backgrounds into one, new, volatile community.
One of those displaced was a Presbyterian pastor, and as he settled into Currulao he naturally began organizing a small group of people of faith to pray and worship together. Later they began tackling issues in the community: a lack of public schools in the new community resulted in a church-run school for all kids; campaigns for public services like regular water and electricity began. The Presbyterian Church of Currulao has constantly worked toward what our partners here call life, and life abundant—for all.
About two years ago this congregation began to build a new church building to replace their original wood-framed sanctuary. In a community of shockingly high poverty, with the constant growing pains of a new town, with high uncertainty about such basic things as safety, sanitation, and food supply, they committed to building a building for their church and the wider community. They are building it by working together. They are funding it by selling tamales and arepas after church. It is literally being built brick by brick, because that is how they can pay for it. It is not a fast way to build a church, not planned or structured, but it is an incredibly faithful testament to how people of faith can work together to realize God's Kingdom here on earth.
In the coming weeks people of faith here in Colombia and in the United States will be celebrating the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia. The theme this year is “A Place to Call Home: Hand in Hand with Colombia.” Through these days of prayers, advocacy, and public demonstration, we can all work together for a more just and more peaceful world. We have included more information on how to participate below—we hope you'll join us. Or as our friends in Currulao would say, this is how we can share in the life God offers—the abundant life. Now, would you like to buy a tamale?
Days of Prayer and Action - April 13-16 -A Place to Call Home
Be a voice for peace and justice in Colombia by joining thousands of people of faith for the 7th Annual National Days of Action for Colombia.
With more than 5 million people forced off their land, Colombia is home to the world's greatest displacement crisis. More and more people are driven from their homes every day.
Help us flood Congress with our message of peace and justice for Colombia! During the National Days of Action for Colombia we will call on our government to pursue policies that protect communities at risk for displacement, small-scale farmers, and Colombian human rights advocates. For sustainable peace in Colombia, the U.S. must stop funding the Colombian military and pushing the unfair trade and failed drug policies.
Our partners at Witness for Peace have resources for individuals, congregations, and group leaders to help you participate in this event. We'll be praying and acting here in Colombia—join us!
Blog highlights www.calledtocolombia.org
Some recent stories from our blog:
Protest – What is it like to protest when you fear for your life?
What is going on in Colombia? – A look at troubling recent trends in the Colombian government's efforts concerning human rights abuses.
Which Story? How do you tell a story that has great pain and great blessing?
Coming to a church near you? We will be coming back to the U.S. for Mission Interpretation from mid-September to mid-December. We will be visiting churches and presbyteries to share more about our work in Colombia and Presbyterian World Mission. Please contact us if you are interested in having us come your way.
• We give thanks for the recent delegation from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. You can read reports from reporter Bethany Furkin about that delegation here, here, and here.
• Prayers for the just and safe implementation of the Law of Victims and Land Recuperation. This is an important step for Colombia, but one that is rife with danger.
• Prayers for discernment and wisdom, courage and fortitude as we discuss future plans with the Presbyterian Church of Colombia (IPC) and the PC(USA).
Richard and Mamie
We are grateful for these partners in mission!
* Community Presbyterian Church - Morton Grove, Ill.
* First Presbyterian Church - Jerseyville, Ill.
* First Presbyterian Church - Pampa, Texas
* First Presbyterian Church - Amarillo, Texas
* First United Church - Oak Park, Ill.
* Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church - Brooklyn, N.Y.
* Fourth Presbyterian Church - Chicago, Ill.
* Highland Presbyterian Church - Winston-Salem, N.C.
* Immanuel Presbyterian Church - McLean, Va.
* North Decatur Presbyterian Church - Decatur, Ga.
* Northwood Presbyterian Church - Clearwater, Fla.
* Oxford Presbyterian Church - Oxford, Ohio
* Park Presbyterian Church - Streator, Ill.
* Sunnyside Presbyterian Church, South Bend, Ind.
* Terry Community Presbyterian Church - Terry, Mont.
* Trinity Presbyterian Church - Winston-Salem, N.C.
* Westminster Presbyterian Church - Medford, Ore.
* Westminster Presbyterian Church - Odessa, Texas
* Westminster Presbyterian Church - Chester, W.Va.
* Yorkfield Presbyterian Church - Elmhurst, Ill.
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 21
Blog: Called to Colombia
Write to Mamie Broadhurst
Write to Richard Williams
Give to Mamie Broadhurst's and Richard Williams' sending and support